PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals preview: San Miguel Beermen vs TNT KaTropa

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 20) — The stage is set, the protagonists cast, and tip off edging ever closer.

The San Miguel Beermen and the TNT KaTropa are set to contest the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner's Cup with Game 1 set on Wednesday evening.

On paper, the Beermen look like favorites to clinch their second consecutive title in the current PBA season.

But the KaTropa have shown the tenacity to battle past the opposition, dumping out top-seeded Barangay Ginebra despite having an injured import.

FEAR THE BEER

The San Miguel Beermen have been imperious this season.

On face value, the Beermen's local starting lineup is probably the most feared bunch in the league today.

The numbers back up the San Miguel starters as well, with Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross, and JuneMar Fajardo topping the Best Player of the Conference race so far.

Add on import Charles Rhodes and San Miguel is suddenly frighteningly deeper.

 

Offensively, San Miguel has the ability to run teams out of buildings, which has been highlighted in the semifinals when their starting unit churned up 101 points on their own.

Coach Leo Austria mentioned earlier during the semifinals that the team has yet to hit its stride on offense but once it gets there then the Beermen may be too much to handle.

Their run in the Commissioner's Cup did not come without hardship.

In the semifinals, San Miguel was tested thoroughly by a tough Star Hotshots side in four games.

Some of the San Miguel staff even admitted that luck favored them from time-to-time, most particularly with Marcio Lassiter's game-winning three-point bomb in Game 3.

There is a saying that it is better to be lucky than good, but make no mistake, the Beermen are very good.

How worrying would it be if they are lucky as well?

THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

With Jayson 'the best point guard in Asia' Castro and Gilas veteran Ranidel De Ocampo in tow, it's hard to imagine that TNT KaTropa is a team lacking in championship experience.

But as head coach Nash Racela brought up in the Finals press conference, KaTropa lacks finals pedigree.

Racela is making his debut as a PBA head coach in the Finals on Wednesday, while nine of his local players will be competing at the biggest stage for the first time as well.

Despite being outclassed in terms of experience, Racela hopes to turn this disadvantage to an advantage.

 

Unfortunately for the TNT, they also have issues with their import.

Reinforcement Joshua Smith left the venue early in their Game 3 loss against Ginebra, and played hurt in the series clinching Game 4 win.

Smith has been a wrecking ball this conference, but the challenge of having to fend off both Rhodes and Fajardo in a weakened state may force TNT to consider another option.

TNT management has Mike Myers on standby, ready to fill in for Smith just in case his body gives way.

That decision will not be made lightly, because replacing their import for one game means Smith can no longer return for the rest of the series.

Though the TNT KaTropa have been saddled with all sorts of hardships leading into the series, they have proven to be resilient throughout the conference.

You can bet that their resilience will test the toughness of the Beermen.